Dec 21, 2018 News
By Kiana Wilburg
After a thorough inspection was conducted, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that there are 623 permits out of compliance with 77 presenting imminent danger to the public’s health.
The assessment was carried out on the instructions of EPA Head, Dr. Vincent Adams.
During an exclusive interview with this publication, Dr. Adams said that one of the first things that he did after his appointment to the post was to request that his staff members put together a list of every permit that it has.
The EPA Head said, “And lo and behold, I was shocked when they came back and told me that we have 623 permits that are out of compliance, meaning expired. And that was the first problem. There are 400 plus in compliance, but we should not have permits that are not in compliance. I asked them to go back now and see how many are of imminent danger to the public, and that came up to be 77.”
Dr. Adams added, “So now I have this issue on my hand which needs to be corrected urgently. Then the assessment also revealed that we don’t have the human resources, we don’t have vehicles to send people into some of these areas so that they can do proper monitoring. That absence in personnel and equipment is clearly affecting us. It is so bad that we have to be borrowing equipment from other agencies to do our job…”
In addition to addressing the aforementioned issue, the EPA is also trying to juggle the arduous task of updating its laws and regulations for the burgeoning oil and gas sector to come.
In this regard, Dr. Adams said, “There is no question when it comes to updating the laws. In fact, I have asked my staff members to get all the information on that for me on what exists today and try to baseline what we have, which includes environmental laws and regulations. Unfortunately, we can’t stop operations, but we have to try and fill in the gaps as we go along and improve where there is need to improve, because all operations have to be safe and environmentally sound.”
Carlos de Regules, the founding Director of Mexico’s Agency for Security, Energy and the Environment (ASEA) is also a proponent for the EPA’s laws and regulations being reviewed and updated.
During a recent interview with Kaieteur News at the Mexican Embassy, Regules stressed the importance of Guyana strengthening the regulations in this regard. He also called for Guyana to strengthen the overall capacity at the EPA.
He said, “Guyana has a very special and professional team at the Environmental Protection Agency and with new leadership too which is very timely. Its new head, Dr. Vincent Adams, has astounding experience in the oil and gas industry and those are a few perfect elements for success. I believe that Guyana is already paying some attention to the EPA but greater focus will take Guyana to where it needs to be.”
The Mexican advisor added, “The Government should not lose visibility of the EPA because it is a key element of oil and gas success. Yes, you have to get the contracts right, you have to get the bidding rounds right, but you must get safety and environmental protection right…And I think they (EPA) are ready for being transformed into a new and innovative institution that incorporates a new mandate for safety.”
Regules asserted that it is also imperative for the EPA to be able to collaborate with the newly created Department of Energy and that they are able to work together to produce an integral regulatory framework where environment and safety concerns are part of the strategic decisions being made for the oil and gas industry.
Further to this, the founding Director said that Guyana’s regulator for the environment will need to have a firm understanding of the oil and gas business as well as the willingness to be robust with operators. He noted that this will come with training and Mexico is ready to help in this regard.
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